More on BSL

Continuing yesterday’s sign language theme, I’ve been looking for information about British Sign Language (BSL) and have found a number online lessons and courses, as well as some information about the language. I’ve even learned a few signs.

BSL is used by over 70,000 deaf people, and also by some 100,000 hearing people. It was recognised as a language in it’s own right by the UK government on 18 March 2003, but it has no legal protection, so is not an official language of the UK.

According to Wikipedia, BSL is very similar to Australian Sign Language (Auslan) and New Zealand Sign Language, and also to Northern Ireland Sign Language (NISL), though differs significantly from Irish Sign Language (ISL), which, like American Sign Language (ASL), developed from French Sign Language (la langue des signes française / LSF).

There are some BSL lessons here, here, here and here.

I find it fascinating to watch sign language being used and would like learn it one of these days.

6 thoughts on “More on BSL

  1. As part of the masters programme in Applied Linguistics I am hoping to take next academic year Irish Sign Language is one of the options for languages one can take but I am not sure if I should or not…

  2. Hi Simon

    Yes, Auslan is a descendant from BSL, as is NZSL. They are now considered individual languages in their own right.

    On the French Language Wikipedia they list a language of BANZSL .. British, Australian and New Zealand Sign Language. That is completely inaccurate. There are similarities, as you find between a root language and its descendants, but they are not the same.

    Auslan and NZSL are said to share about 60% of the language, and both share around 40% of BSL. Probably around 30% of NISL. (I’m making that up 🙂 ).

    We understand each other mostly through lip movement cues – if a Deaf person is signing without lip movement cues, we need to clarify signs.

  3. Hi Simon

    I have just found your blog and its very informative….

    I have created an online BSL training course which offers free tutorials amongst other things.

    Working as a sign language interpreter myself I often get asked about where to learn sign language and is it easy to learn etc…which is why I decided to do something about it.

    For more info take a look at

  4. in thailand, the sign language used in bangkok (the biggest city) is apparently totally different from the one used in chiang mai (the second biggest city). the two cities also speak a different dialect of the same spoken language, but that is something that evolved a very long time ago.

    i’ve been trying to find out how the two different sign languages evolved but haven’t been able to get much info ….

Comments are closed.